Best NFL Combine Performances of All Time

    The NFL Combine returns in 2022 after taking a year off -- in celebration, let's look at the best NFL Combine performances of all time.

    Best NFL Combine Performances of All Time

    It’s that time of the year again. A time where we watch NFL Draft prospects run as fast as they can, jump as far and high as possible, and crank out bench press reps like there’s no tomorrow. The NFL Combine is a unique event in the world of football, and it can help a prospect’s draft stock tremendously. Today, we take a look at the best NFL Combine performances of all time in this glorified athletic exhibition.

    Best NFL Combine Performances of All Time

    The NFL Combine swapped equipment in 2006, and the 40-yard dash wasn’t electronically timed until 1999. So, some Combine performances before those years are looked at in a different light. Nevertheless, a pair of players produced insane numbers in the 1980s, and even factoring in some modern changes, they still would have had incredible Combine performances.

    OT Trent Williams | 2010

    In order to make this list, you have to look at overall performance. For most players, that’s easy. Others, not so much. When it comes to linemen, the good performers typically do more than one thing well. It shouldn’t be a surprise to see Trent Williams on this list. He’s considered one of the best linemen in the NFL due to his nasty blocking. That dominance started in the NFL Combine.

    At 6’4″, 315 pounds, he ran a 4.81 40-yard dash, which isn’t common for players over 300 pounds. He produced a 4.63 short shuttle, 34.5-inch vertical, and a 9’5″ broad jump. An NFL Combine performance can have a big effect on a player’s draft stock, and Williams used his numbers to go from a borderline first-round pick to a top-five selection.

    DT Dontari Poe | 2012

    I need people to understand something. Linemen are the athletes you need to watch closely. None of them have any business doing some of the things they do athletically, especially when they weigh over 300 pounds. Dontari Poe took that to a whole different level in 2012.

    People don’t understand the power you need to run a 40-yard dash under 5 seconds at 346 pounds. We get so accustomed to seeing receivers and defensive backs do it that a 4.89 time doesn’t move the meter. However, that’s incredible for a big man. Poe was running 16.7 miles per hour during that dash, making him the first man over 340 pounds to run under 4.90.

    He also put up 44 reps on the bench press. A good score for a defensive tackle is 36, and the NFL Combine record is 49. There’s nothing common about what Poe did back in 2012, and he doesn’t get enough credit for that performance.

    DE Bruce Irvin | 2012

    It’s safe to say that no one saw this one coming. Bruce Irvin entered the Combine as a late-second or early-third-round pick. Yet, one of the best NFL Combine performances of all time launched him to 15th overall. The defensive end from West Virginia turned heads with his speed, and it translated well for his NFL career.

    His 4.41 40-yard dash alone would have made him a first-round pick at a number of other positions. However, Irvin played on the defensive line and weighed almost 50 pounds heavier than most of the athletes that ran around the same time as him.

    WR Darrius Heyward-Bey | 2009

    I tell you what, the Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders never saw a blazing fast receiver they didn’t love. Darrius Heyward-Bey has an argument for best NFL Combine performance in terms of baiting a team into taking him in the top 10. Can you blame Al Davis, though?

    MORE: NFL Combine Records: 40 Times, Bench Press, Vertical Jump, and More

    At the time, Heyward-Bey ran a 4.25 40-yard dash, the second-fastest ever at that time behind former ECU and Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson. At his peak, Heyward-Bey was running 23.4 miles per hour. He also posted a 38.5-inch vertical, 10’6″ broad jump, and 4.18-second short shuttle. He never panned out with the Raiders, but his Combine was fun.

    WR Julio Jones | 2011

    Julio Jones’ stock might have been the least affected by any of these NFL Combine performances. If anything, it confirmed what we all knew. Nearly everyone had the Alabama wide receiver listed as a top-10 pick, and the Combine proved why.

    A 4.34 40-yard dash, 4.25 short shuttle, 38.5-inch vertical, and 11.3″ broad jump reminded teams they needed to take him as soon as possible. Only Atlanta got the memo, but they’re happy five other teams passed him up.

    TE Vernon Davis | 2006

    Some guys are just unfair. That’s the only way to describe Vernon Davis. At 245 pounds, he had no business running a 4.38 40-yard dash (tied for ninth-fastest that year), 4.17 short shuttle, 42 bench press reps (third), 42-inch vertical (second), and 10’8″ broad jump (16th). Put all those numbers together, and it’s just simply unfair for someone to be that good at that many things.

    RB Bo Jackson | 1982

    The legend of Bo Jackson grows every year, but arguably one of the most talked-about stories is his 40-yard dash time. His 4.12-second time is said to be the fastest ever recorded. While the technology might not support that, nor do we know how legitimate it actually was, seeing Bo play on the field makes that time reasonable (which is terrifying).

    CB Deion Sanders | 1989

    Why is Deion Sanders on this list? A hand-timed 4.2 40-yard dash still sticks to his name. That was the only drill he participated in at the Combine. Deion knew how to make a statement, so he proved that he could fly on the field and ran straight to a limousine waiting for him right after. It was one of the best NFL Combine performances ever, mostly based on Sanders’ swagger and confidence.

    LB Shaquem Griffin | 2018

    If you didn’t follow the UCF Knights’ story in 2017 (most people didn’t until late in the season), you didn’t know anything about Shaquem Griffin. One of the best players in the country helped lead UCF to a “national championship” and then stunned everyone at the NFL Combine.

    His story of only having one hand was the headline, but his results gave us plenty to talk about as well. At 227 pounds, he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash (the fastest speed for a linebacker in the history of the Combine) and put up 20 reps on the bench press with a prosthetic attached to his arm. His NFL career has been mostly spent on special teams, but he gave us some memories that we won’t forget.

    RB Saquon Barkley | 2018

    The New York Giants hope Saquon Barkley can get back to form this season, but for now, they can reminisce about his 2018 Combine performance. At 233 pounds, we knew he could be a special player, but his test results surprised even his biggest supporters.

    Barkley produced a 4.40 40-yard dash, 1.54 10-yard split, 29 bench-press reps, and a 41-inch vertical jump. Those figures, according to NFL Research, made him faster than Devin Hester (4.43 40), quicker than DeSean Jackson (1.55 10-yard split), stronger than Joe Thomas (28 reps on the bench), and meant he jumped higher than Julio Jones (38.5-inch vertical). So if you’re a Giants fan and need a reminder of what Barkley can do, here’s some positivity.